Case of Freedom Trail guides headed to the NLRB – The Boston Globe

LABORCase of Freedom Trail guides headed to the NLRB

Freedom Trail tour guides fighting for their first union contract are set to face their employer in a National Labor Relations Board hearing next month, following charges by the union that the Freedom Trail Foundation withheld tour guides scheduled pay raises. Lizzie Short said she was was one of several guides denied the extra $3.50 per tour they were entitled to, following a review process, after two years of service. The reason, Shorts boss told her each time she brought it up, was the ongoing contract negotiations. The union filed a complaint with the labor relations board late last summer, and in December, the board found that the Freedom Trail Foundation had failed to bargain in good faith and set a hearing date for March 3 in Boston. The board also ordered the foundation to provide back pay to guides who had been denied scheduled pay increases. In its response to the labor relations board, the foundation denied any wrongdoing. The 30-plus guides, who take visitors to local historic sites dressed in Colonial-era garb, voted to join Unite Here Local 26 a year ago. Their main demands: the ability to use microphones, to cancel tours during bad weather, to wear more weather-appropriate garb, and to call in sick without feeling obligated to find their own replacements. They also want more money. Guides base pay $45 for a 90-minute tour, plus time beforehand getting into costume and promoting their tours hasnt increased in 12 years, the guides said. KATIE JOHNSTON

The Baker administration has named Patrick Woodcock as its new Department of Energy Resources commissioner, following Judith Judsons departure to the private sector. Woodcock had been appointed interim energy resources commissioner in December because Judson took a job with Ameresco, the Framingham-based renewable energy company. Before joining the administration, Woodcock was director of Maines state energy office from 2013 through 2016. Woodcocks current boss, state energy and environmental affairs secretary Katie Theoharides, announced his new job at a meeting of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center board on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, the administration announced that Jim Montgomery has been appointed commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and Shaun Santos was named colonel of the Massachusetts Environmental Police. Both roles are also overseen by Theoharides. JON CHESTO

L.L. Bean is eliminating 200 jobs across the company and closing its call center in Maines second-largest city as part of a reorganization. The outdoor retailers job cuts will occur at all levels, company spokeswoman Carolyn Beem said Wednesday. All 130 call center agents in Lewiston will be offered the opportunity to move to a call center in Portland or work from home, she said. The company has dealt with flat sales and a difficult era of belt-tightening that included a previous reduction in workforce, a tightening of its generous return policy, and a paring of product lines to refocus on the companys outdoors roots. But the company last year reported a small increase in sales. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Online mattress pioneer Casper Sleep Inc. is slashing the price of its initial public offering. The New York-based company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday that it now anticipates offering approximately 8.4 million shares at $12 to $13 per share. Last month Casper said it expected to price the IPO between $17 and $19 per share. Investors may be cautious after some recent IPO flops. The ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft debuted on the market last year, but have continued to lose money and both have traded well below their IPO prices. Office-sharing company WeWork scuttled its IPO in September. ASSOCIATED PRESS

US companies added 291,000 jobs in January, a big increase from December, but much of that strength likely reflected unusually warm weather during the month. Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that the January job gain, which was larger than had been expected, compared to a revised December figure of 193,000. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moodys Analytics, said that warmer-than-normal weather for January played a big role in the increase. He said without that impact, the job gain would probably have been around 150,000. The ADP report is coming out ahead of the Labor Departments release of the January jobs report on Friday. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Spotify announced Tuesday that it had entered into an agreement to acquire The Ringer, a podcast-focused pop culture and sports company founded by former ESPN writer Bill Simmons. Terms of the deal which had been rumored for weeks were not announced, though Recodes Peter Kafka reports that Spotify intends to hire The Ringers 90 employees and keep its website up and running. But the audio companys main desire was to acquire The Ringers successful podcast network, which includes offerings such as Simmons eponymous podcast and shows covering the NBA, NFL, the media, and pop culture. WASHINGTON POST

Drug maker Merck beat Wall Streets fourth-quarter profit expectations, but investors werent as happy with the biggest move Mercks made in years: deciding to spin off its womens health division and other operations with $6.5 billion in annual revenues. The maker of cancer blockbuster Keytruda announced the plan along with its quarterly results, saying the two resulting companies each would be able to grow faster and develop more new medicines, benefiting patients. But investors sold off shares in heavy trading early Wednesday, pushing their price down more than 4 percent initially before closing 2.9 percent down. The maneuver culminates a steady shift of Mercks business the past several years from a primary care drug maker with more than 160 products, to a company which will have half as many, focused on its surging but young oncology business, and growing sales of its vaccine, hospital products, and veterinary medicines. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Walt Disney Co.s crusade to become a streaming giant is off to a swift start. Subscribers to the new Disney+ online service soared to 28.6 million by early February, suggesting the company founded nearly a century ago can challenge Netflix Inc. in the crowded market for online TV. Analysts were forecasting a year-end total of 20.8 million, according to Bloomberg Consensus. BLOOMBERG NEWS

Johns Hopkins University dislodged Harvard University as the top fund-raiser among US colleges, fueled by a $1.8 billion donation from Michael Bloomberg. Schools raised almost $50 billion in the 12 months ended June 2019, a record year and the 10th consecutive period of increased donations, according to a study released Wednesday by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Hopkins brought in $2.7 billion after Bloomberg in November 2018 announced the gift for his alma mater to help low- and moderate-income students attend. Harvard, the richest US college, had topped the list every year since fiscal 2016. It raised $1.4 billion, followed by Stanford University at $1.1 billion, according to the data. BLOOMBERG NEWS

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Case of Freedom Trail guides headed to the NLRB - The Boston Globe

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